Port Augusta's drinking habits on par with the national trend

Port Augusta is in line with the rest of the country when it comes to enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage.
Port Augusta is in line with the rest of the country when it comes to enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage.

A new study has shown Port Augusta is on par with the rest of the country when it comes to enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage.

The Mitchell Institute at Victoria University released the findings of their 'Australia's Health Tracker by Area Alcohol Report', and the region sits equal with the national rate of 17.1 per cent.

Kangaroo Island claimed the state's top spot, with 27 per cent of the population drinking at risky levels.

Followed closely by the Mid-Murray at 24.1 per cent and Robe, 22.2 per cent.

The council area with the lowest percentage was Salisbury with 12.2 per cent.

Professor Rosemary Calder from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University said people who drink to excess are at much higher risk of alcohol-related illness including heart disease, stroke, liver disease, some cancers, depression, anxiety and dementia.

The Tracker also shows that lower socioeconomic communities and those with high migrant populations were less likely to drink at risky levels.

"This suggests that a culture of drinking plays the biggest factor in risky drinking rates, and alcohol prices are also influencing drinking patterns," Ms Calder said.

She said government programs that promoted safe drinking, and healthcare supports should be targeted into the communities that needed it most.

"We need to focus on getting effective information and supports for reducing alcohol consumption into regional communities."

According to the study, risking drinking constitutes two standard drinks a day or more on average.

While some areas remain alarmingly high, nationally the average risky drinking rate is on the downward trend and Australians are on track to reach the 2025 target of 16.1 per cent.

The Australian Health Policy Collaboration recommends extending the volumetric excise that already applies to spirits and beer, to currently exempted alcohol like wine, cider and other fruit-based beverages.

Other recommendations include a 10 per cent tax increase to simplify the alcohol tax system and reduce the volume of alcohol consumed.

Around 5,500 deaths and 157,000 hospital admissions are attributed to alcohol consumption in Australia each year, and alcohol-related harm costs the economy more than $14 billion annually.

Risky alcohol consumption is responsible for 4.6 per cent of Australia's burden of disease including 12.8 per cent of breast cancers, 4.3 per cent of bowel cancers, 6 per cent of cardiovascular disease, 6.4 per cent of liver disease and 34 per cent of injuries.

Globally it contributes to an estimated 33 per cent of the mental illness disease burden and 22 per cent of suicide deaths.